A Sydney construction company has been fined $425,000 and its sole officer $85,000, plus costs, after a bricklayer fell to his death on a multi-storey site.

It is the second largest health and safety fine ever awarded in New South Wales and could have been larger as the maximum penalties available to the Court were AU$1.5 million and AU$300,000 respectively.

The decision provides some potential insight into circumstances where an officer will attract liability and to the potential level of fines that could face offenders in New Zealand in the not too distant future.

The facts

The worker died after falling five metres through a penetration, the plywood covering of which had not been bolted to the concrete slab.

Allen Romanous, the owner of Romanous Contractors, was the Site Manager and was responsible for the health and safety management plan. At the time of the incident, the National Code for the Prevention of Falls in General Construction and the WorkCover Code of Practice required that holes in floors should be made safe immediately.

Mr Ramanous had asked a worker to secure the hole the day before but the job had not been completed.

Mitigating circumstances

The Court took into account that Mr Romanous was "generally considered to be a person of good character", had no prior convictions, had pleaded guilty and was unlikely to re-offend as the company was likely to be wound up at the end of the proceedings.

The decision is available here.